by Tom Jacobs
Religious devotion, as news reports constantly remind us, can inspire everything from empathy for the poor to horrific violence. But whatever its impact on society, divine belief has widely been seen as beneficial to individuals, as it has also consistently been linked with better-than-average mental and physical health.
Newly published research from Germany strongly challenges that latter contention. After examining data from 59 countries, University of Cologne psychologist Olga Stavrova concludes that “the health and longevity benefits of religiosity are restricted to highly religious regions.”
In the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, she adds this is also true within the United States, with previously reported links between health, faith, and churchgoing confined to areas where religious belief and attendance are the norm.
The results suggest any protective effect of religion is the result of fitting in comfortably with one’s surroundings—not the religious preference of those surroundings per se—and the reduced stress levels this alignment produces. For those who live in more secular societies, the impact of religion on health appears to be small to none.
Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.